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article imageEva Mendes has got the look for 'The Place Beyond The Pines' Special

By Earl Dittman     Apr 5, 2013 in Entertainment
One of Tinsel Town’s true natural beauties, actress Eva Mendes, refuses to capitalize on her sex appeal when it comes to delivering stunning performances in films she believes in. 'The Place Beyond The Pines' is one such motion picture.
As Eva Mendes strolls into the Waldorf Astoria hotel suite set aside for her to chat about her incredible performance in the riveting and emotionally-stirring motion picture The Place Beyond The Pines, it's hard not to be struck by what a radiant, natural beauty the 39-year-old actress really is. Outfitted in a stunning designer red dress (with large black polka dots), the charming and effervescent Mendes, sits down and with huge smile and responds to a compliment about her ageless beauty with a blushingly genuine, "Thank you, you're too kind."
Eva Mendes at the recent red carpet premiere of  The Place Beyond The Pines
Eva Mendes at the recent red carpet premiere of 'The Place Beyond The Pines'
Focus Features
As Mendes demonstrates in The Place Beyond The Pines – as she has many times before in films such as Training Day, We Own The Night and the recent Holy Motors – she is more than just another pretty face. The one constant in the Derek Cianfrance-directed three-act motion picture about shared legacy, Mendes' portrayal (as a mother torn between love and loyalty) is overflowing with passion and intensity. Co-starring with real-life beau Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Ray Liotta, Mendes delivers one of the most incredible performances of her career (which first began after a stint on a 1998 episode of ER). In The Place Beyond The Pines, the Miami-born, Los Angeles-raised Cuban-American actress portrays Romina, a young waitress from the small, sleepy town of Schenectady, New York who spends an intimate evening with Luke (Gosling), a motorcycle stunt rider who is a member of a traveling carnival. When Luke travels through upstate New York a year later, he makes an attempt to reconnect with Romina. It is during that time that Luke discovers he has fathered a son with her. Although Romina is living with a new man in her life (Mahershala Ali), she can't resist her former lover's efforts to make up for lost time with his newborn offspring – despite possibly tragic consequences.
To get a better understanding as to why her character continued to maintain a relationship with Luke, Mendes assembled a group of close female friends and relatives to assist her into delving into Romina’s psyche. “I have so many women in my life – my family, my friends, my sisters and my mother,” Mendez explains, as she makes herself comfortable in the luxurious Manhattan suite. “Before I started on the character, I wanted to have a women's day at home. I brought all these women – who are all mothers – and we all sat around and talked and ate. We all had fun but I gave them a subject matter to ponder. I gave them a question. I said, ‘Okay, so here is a situation, you have a child with a man you don't know. That man is out of the picture. Then you meet a great man who wants to provide for this child as if it were his own. Then, the biological father comes back into the picture. He wants to be involved in your life, but you have this great man who wants to provide because the biological father is unfit. What do you do?’
Romina (Mendes) with her baby son in  The Place Beyond The Pines
Romina (Mendes) with her baby son in 'The Place Beyond The Pines'
Focus Features
“To me, I thought that you’d go with the man who is fit to provide for the child,” Eva confesses. “But, all the other women were like, No! Everything in your body and your being has a primordial pull to the biological father, no matter how wrong or unfit he may be. You try everything to make that work. Not to say it is going to work but you do try to make that work, somehow.’ I was like, ‘Ah, wow! This is so interesting.’ I got so much insight from my friends and family and women who were in similar situations. It was amazing. It was so helpful for me. So I figured when Romina kept seeing Luke, she was flawed and she wanted to keep the man who was stable bu,t she was like 'Ah, let me see, let me test him out first.’ Before she introduces the baby to Luke, she tests him out a little bit. She's testing the waters a bit and she's scared and has trepidations, but there's an, ‘Oh my God, can this work?’ kind of feeling. Obviously, she can't ignore the fact that Luke is incredibly exciting. He's a motorcycle stunt driver in a traveling carnival that comes into this sleepy little town. It is the early ‘90s and there is no Facebook – nobody knows where anybody's at. He's disappeared, but he's come back in and she's still like a young women who's caught up in this wow-factor of this larger than life character – who's electric. Luke’s filled with electricity and that is something that is appealing.”
Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of Luke is as high voltage and enticing as the character he plays in The Place In The Pines. Gosling and Mendes' chemistry together on the screen is equally mesmerizing. As mentioned, Ryan and Eva are an off-screen couple. “Ryan and I have known each other for years,” is all Eva will reveal about their relationship. Although they are incredibly close, Mendes admits that was no guarantee the pair were automatically going emotionally click in their shared scenes. “You never know what is going to happen before you make a movie together,” she maintains. “You can be friends with somebody and not like how they work, but I obviously respect Ryan so much as an actor. He is certainly up to my game and everybody else's game.”
Derek Cianfrance directed Gosling and Mendes in a passionate love sequence for The Place Beyond The Pines. Regardless of who she may be sharing an sexually intimate moment with in front of the cameras, Mendes insists she dislikes that whole physical process of acting on film. "Love scenes are always awkward – let's just say that – they're awful," she says with disdain. "You've heard it before. I am not saying anything you haven't heard from every other actress or actor. Love scenes are terrible. I have managed to – in my career – really skip through them. There are times in a script where I read that my character has a love scene and I carefully address it with the director and I say, 'Can we please cut this out? I fell like it is gratuitous. There is no need for it.' Thankfully, that has happened. I feel like I try to avoid them whenever I can and I have done a couple of things that have been appropriate for the films I have been in but, I have never done a simulated sex scene, because I just feel like they are rarely appropriate."
Eva Mendes with  The Place Beyond The Pines  director Derek Cianfrance
Eva Mendes with 'The Place Beyond The Pines' director Derek Cianfrance
Focus Features
When Cianfrance (who directed Gosling in Blue Valentine) was looking to cast the role of Romina, the filmmaker saw a number of actresses. Ryan mentioned that Mendes might be interested in the part so the director agreed to read Eva for the role. Once she and Cianfrance sat down to discuss the part, Mendes knew she had to snag the role. "I knew from the audition that we were onto something special," Mendes remembers. "When I came to see him for this role, I said to Derek, 'I can go into that room and read this material for you but I really don't think that's what you're looking for. I think we should get into a car and I will take you for a drive around the neighborhoods I grew up in in Los Angeles and you can see how me and this character are really alike –and I can talk to you about my experiences growing up.' He was totally into it, and we took this beautiful couple of hours in the car. I talked to him about my upbringing and I showed him where I was from, and I drew the parallels between the characters. It was so great. So, the fact that he was so into that non-conventional approach to auditioning, I was like, 'Oh gosh, this is going to be fun. I like this.' Derek Cianfrance is my dream director. I love how this man works. I can't get enough of it as far as the way he approaches things."
Mendes  Mahershala Ali and Cianfrance on the set of  The Place Beyond The Pines
Mendes, Mahershala Ali and Cianfrance on the set of 'The Place Beyond The Pines'
Focus Features
Mendes and Cianfrance developed such a close and trusting connection he even suggested that Eva choose the clothes for Romina to wear in The Place Beyond The Pines. "I chose things that were very early-90s," she explains. "I wanted her to be as raw as raw could be. This is not a girl who fusses with makeup or clothing. This is a woman who is in survival mode and who's really bare bones. You know those horrific jean shorts that I wore in the film – were so God-awful – were mine from 1992. I swear…absolutely!"
Two decades later, Mendes still looks as hot and sexy in jean shorts as she in her teens. "Well, I wouldn't go that far, if you notice, they're a little ripped on the sides, so they needed some tweaking," she says with a self-effacing laugh. "Derek loved it because he's so incredible. This is what I love about Derek: he wants as much personal stuff that you can infuse a character with. That is what he loves. That is what he really invites and encourages. I love that. So, he loved that I had those shorts – but they were very ill fitting, and I was just like, 'That is what I want for her. She's raw.'"
Eva Mendes as Romina in  The Place Beyond The Pines
Eva Mendes as Romina in 'The Place Beyond The Pines'
Focus Features
Mendes is not afraid to play down her natural beauty for a role she believes in. In fact, she had so much trust in the incredible The Place Beyond The Pines that Eva allowed herself and Romina to age 15 years in the film – from wrinkles to graying hair. For Mendes, it was a necessary transformation to deepen her connection to her character. "Because of the tragedy she suffered, I wanted to make sure that you could see it – that you could see it in her face and body," Mendes confesses. "I did certain little tricks that I want to keep secret to make sure I looked haggard and just kind of like time have its way with me. I talked to Derek a bit. I did all the obvious – like crying a bit.
Eva Mendes plays a forty-something Romina in   The Place Beyond The Pines
Eva Mendes plays a forty-something Romina in 'The Place Beyond The Pines'
Focus Features
"One of the little tricks I did was to shave down my eyebrows to look very, very thin but I do not really recommend it for an everyday look," she says jokingly. "When you want to change your face a bit and look a little insane, it actually works. I wanted it to be stemming from an emotional place rather than going into prosthetics or aging too much. The truth is, at the start of the film, she is in her mid-to-late 20s – it's a little ambiguous – then you are going into her early '40s and there is a difference there, but it is not as drastic. We were like, 'We don't want the attention of the film to go into, 'Oh my God, is that her?' That, you could see it in her face and body."
Eva Mendes as Romina in  The Place Beyond The Pines
Eva Mendes as Romina in 'The Place Beyond The Pines'
Focus Features
Eva Mendes is one Hollywood actress unworried about looking older for any role she falls in love with. "The Place Beyond The Pines is such an important film, I was ready to do anything – on my part – to make it the best it could be," she emphasizes. "Who cares if I look older? If it makes the story work, that's all that counts. Derek has made a great film. Ryan and Brad was fantastic in it. So, why would I worry about a silly thing like being aged for my role? It's all about acting and being genuine. This film deserved it. I was willing to give it my all – regardless of some people's perception of beauty or me. Isn't that what, we as, actors are supposed to do?"
The Place Beyond The Pines is now open in theaters in limited release. It opens wide across North America on April 12, 2013. (Check local listings for theaters and show times)
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